By Ed Galucki
First responders reach out to help many people, often in the worst times of a person’s life. But who is there to help the helpers when the strain begins to take its toll?
For the Cabot Police Department, the responders find help in someone who is answering a call of their own.
For Tina Frost, becoming a police chaplain is a natural result of her childhood in a "very abusive" home, her dream to be in law enforcement and, most of all, an answer to a call from God to meet the needs of police officers.
"It’s about showing people they are cared for. We all need to know that. It is not about denomination, it’s about relationships. It’s knowing that God does love them," Frost said.
Although her motive is based on faith, it is not about promoting her point of view, although as chaplain she does answer religious questions, Frost said. "It is all about caring about people," she said.
Other facets of the position include counseling officers and being available for their families; talking about stress management and family life, Frost said. "I do have confidentiality, so they know anything they say to me won’t go any farther,’ she said.
Yes, she does make death notifications, Frost said. "I call pastors so someone does not have to be alone. If they don’t have a pastor, I stay with them until someone is found who can stay with them," she said.
She is also the department’s reach to homeless people, Frost said. "I have bags of toiletries and other needs. I have blankets," she said.
She is also there to help victims with their needs, Frost said. "I know what a lot of them are going through. I know what it is like to have your father say he doesn’t want you. It has given me compassion," she said.
The months that she has been chaplain have been spent building rapport with and the confidence of the officers, Frost said. "I ride patrol with them, visit with them, let them know I am here," she said.
It is, she repeated, a full-time job, although a volunteer post. Her "pay" is doing what she is supposed to be doing.
"I quit my paying job to do this, I had to, this is not 9 to 5, it is 24-7," Frost said.
Other chaplains have been pastors serving the department in addition to their church work, Frost said. "But this is all I do, 24-7," she said.
But finding the call was not an easy discovery to make, though once made, the commitment was total.
Frost said she and her husband, Greg, have always been active in their church, Mt. Carmel Baptist Church. Sunday School, choir, even mission trips to Guatemala.
"But I began to feel like I was supposed to be doing something else, do something more … It got to be almost a pressure, right here, that I was supposed to be doing something," Frost said, placing her hand on her chest. "But for a long time I didn’t know what it was supposed to be," she said.
In December 2010, she put it to her fellow church members to pray for her direction, and then began a series of "coincidences" that kept putting law enforcement in front of her.
But the "coincidences" were what believers see as open doors, Frost said.
Finally, when someone at church asked if she had ever thought of being a police chaplain, she felt a definite direction to go.
Frost said that through a meeting with the Benton police chaplain she learned of a credentialing course being offered by the International Conference of Police Chaplains.
"I went to it just to make sure that [being a chaplain] was what I was supposed to be doing … yes, it pretty much settled it for me," Frost said.
The course is extensive — counseling, ethics, what can and cannot be done by a chaplain, and many other areas, Frost said.
She already knew what police go through, Frost said. "I was dispatcher here about 10 years ago," she said.
After getting her credentials, she approached Cabot Chief Jackie Davis. "I didn’t know where I was to go [as a chaplain]," Frost said.
After a while, she got a call from Lt. Brent Lucas, the Cabot police public relations officer, and in April 2012 she became the Cabot police chaplain.
Lucas said the chaplain program under Frost has been building. "It started off as a crawl, then it stood up, then was walking and now it is beginning to take off on a run," he said.
"The Cops Toy Patrol that we just did was [Frost’s] doing," he said. "She is making a difference here."